Home Tours

A Hamilton home with a dose of French flair

This Hamilton home has a distinct French flavour, thanks to a 40-foot container full of furniture shipped all the way from Europe

In a nutshell

Who lives here?
Audrey Fitzjohn (online retailer at hellopaper.co.nz) and Elliot Fitzjohn (arboriculture tutor at Waikato Institute of Technology), with their French bulldog Violet.

Audrey, just how many of the objects and furnishings in the house are from France?
Just about everything is from France. A 40-foot container does have a lot of room, and I had a lot of things!

What’s your favourite room in the house?
It would have to be the big open space that is the kitchen and living area. Our friends and visitors always comment on that particular room – it has a very special light and calming feel to it.

Did you manage to stick to your renovation budget?
No… do you ever keep to the budget?! But we didn’t go over by much, we managed the whole thing pretty well.


Audrey’s style secrets

  • Don’t be afraid of white. “I often hear people say that they love light houses but can’t do it with children. Nowadays there are washable paints for walls, and you can throw on sofa covers in light colours that can be washed, so white isn’t scary at all.”
  • Texture is the key to avoiding a sterile look with white. Mix textures using accessories such as throws and cushions.
  • Don’t be too literal about white, says Audrey. “There are many shades of off-white, light greys, beiges and many more that can bring contrast and interest to your rooms.”
  • Timber finishes look beautiful against a white background.
  • Because she didn’t like the fabric on her armchairs, Audrey covered them with a pair of antique sheets. “Being my fussy French self, I don’t usually like what upholsterers do. So the lazy option was to cover the armchairs. I actually love it now, and it’s so easy to throw the covers in the wash when I need to.”


Recycling tricks

  • Revel in the imperfections of age as Audrey and Elliot do. Rather than repaint a piece of furniture completely, leave some parts bare or with the original paintwork to enhance the piece’s sense of history.
  • With the shutters in the bedroom, Audrey stripped off the thick white paint with a heat gun but deliberately left the surface rough to create an imperfect look. “I love nothing more than a patina that shows a piece’s age.”
  • A lot of Audrey’s inspiration comes from reading blogs, and she’s also “very addicted” to Pinterest.
  • Audrey searches secondhand shops for special pieces at least once a week. “There are so many dated pieces of furniture that
    can be painted and look glorious for next to nothing.”


Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Angela Keoghan.

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